100 years ago, women were property (legally) and a husband could do just about anything to his wife. Murder was still murder, but anything else was treated by law enforcement much like animal abuse was in the day (not a big deal for the courts to be concerned with).
20 years ago I became a volunteer *CASA guardian ad Litem (voice for the child) in County child protection and saw first hand what it’s like for an American citizen to have no voice in the home, no voice in the courts and no voice in the media.
Over 25 years ago the rest of the world (194 nations) decided that children have basic human rights and begin signing the International Rights of the Child Treaty. Under this document, children are to have the rights to education, safety and well being including not to be made soldiers and not to be enslaved).
America is the only nation in the world that has not signed this agreement, largely because we still demand that southern states continue to militarize youth as young as eleven through military schools. Brief Overview of the Treaty;
All children have the rights guaranteed by the Convention, without discrimination of any kind.
“The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.”
These rights are:
- Development with dignity
- A name and nationality
- Access to food, housing, and medical care
- Special care if handicapped
- Love and understanding
- A free education
- Care in dangerous situations
- Peace, love, and friendship
*Court Appointed Special Advocate
What follows are a sampling of key differences in how children are valued in our nation and the rest of the industrialized world and what we need to do to make life better for America’s children.
These differences go a long way to explain why generational child abuse and child poverty are so prevalent here and not in other advanced nations;
Most U.S. states don’t support subsidized daycare. Institutional daycare in MN is almost $14,000 /year. Drunk uncles do allot of babysitting in MN.
Crisis nurseries are a luxury most of America’s stressed out parents don’t have access to (this directly relates to child abuse).
Many American newborns remain untested and untreated for very treatable metabolic disorders, hearing and sight diseases & blood lead level s.
48 States allow religious exemptions from vaccination.
Some states allow religion to keep children from TB testing in school. 43 states give some kind of criminal or civil immunity to parents injuring their children by withholding medical care on religious grounds.
Six states let parents keep teachers from teaching their children about disease in school.
Over the years KARA has reported on children dying because their parents withheld medical treatment because the church told them to do so. Some parents have killed more than one child by withholding medical treatment.
Some religions allow child neglect and abuse & some states allow a religious defense against charges of murdering their child – and “some can’t be charged with murder at all” (Slate).
2 years ago, Kansas State Rep Gail Finney vowed to pass a bill that allowed caregivers to leave bruises and cause bleeding when disciplining a child (no age limit).
Arkansas State Rep Charles Fuqua promoted the death penalty for rebellious children (based on religious grounds).
As a volunteer CASA County guardian ad-Litem, (Hennepin County MN) it has been painful to observe beaten and often sexually abused two and four year old children live through that abuse and overcome their terror and traumas and go onto make for themselves a normal life. Not many do. Nationally, 80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.
There are between 12 and 18 million children reported abused in our nation every year. They have no voice in their homes, in the courts or in the media (thank you Brandon Stahl and Star Tribune for the work you do).
Support the U.S. ratification of the international Rights of the Child Treaty.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for ending all religious exemption laws.
It is insane that in the 21st century America promotes religious practices with outcomes not any different than witnessed at witch trials in the 1600’s (innocent dead people).
Here’s a breakdown from Children’s Healthcare that shows a breakdown of states and their religious exemptions.
Let’s make sure MN legislators understand the importance of crisis nurseries, subsidized daycare (there are 7000 families on the waiting list in MN) health and mental health services for children and the value of early childhood programs and assistance for young families.
All Adults are the Protectors of All Children